Specialist Group on Oceans, Coasts and Coral Reefs

Co-Chairs: Nilufer Oral, David VanderZwaag


Year in Review

Certainly the major highlight of the year was the preparation and submission of a legal brief on behalf of the IUCN WCEL to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Case No. 21, Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by the Sub-regional Fisheries Commission. This was followed by the presentation of oral arguments in the case by Nilufer Oral (Co-Chair of the Oceans Specialist Group) and SG members, Cymie Payne and Anastasia Telesetsky.

Several SG members were also active in supporting the Environmental Law Centre’s initiatives to promote the development of an International Instrument on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Marine Areas beyond National Jurisdiction. Members contributed to the writing of a series of policy briefs and to a December workshop in Bonn devoted to drafting an international agreement.

The Oceans Specialist Group also provided substantial support to the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law and the convening of its 12th Colloquium in Tarragona, Spain, from June 30 - July 5. Close to a dozen members presented papers on ocean law and policy-related topics and four members, including the Co-Chair, David VanderZwaag, chaired panel sessions.

The Oceans Specialist Group was also actively engaged in events at the IUCN World Parks Congress held in Sydney, Australia in November 2014. SG members have also published many articles and briefs and have participated in numerous international meetings, conferences and fora on international ocean law and policy.


  1. Maximize involvement of the SG in drafting legal brief to ITLOS
  2. Enhance collaborations with the IUCN Environmental Law Centre
  3. Continue supporting the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law in the area of ocean law and policy
  4. Strengthen cooperation within the IUCN to address ocean law and coastal governance and policy issues
  5. Continue supporting IUCN ocean-related activities within the United Nations
  6. Broaden the active involvement of SG members

Workshop documents